Spring Training Game #26: LA Angels 6, Indians 5
Tribe pen looks good after Bauer falters
The Indians are still ironing out their final roster spots as the team gets ready to break camp at the end of next week. Trevor Bauer, David Huff, Chris McGuiness and Cord Phelps are still trying to make a case for themselves for those last spots, but are fighting an uphill battle. Wednesday's game provided mixed results for those four players.
Lonnie Chisenhall and Michael Brantley, on the other hand, seem to be settling into season form quite nicely. Both led the team's offense during the mid-week tilt in a losing effort. Here are some notes on Wednesday's game:
- Cabrera really is in shape as compared to the past two springs. It’s clear that he’s been working hard since last season to stay in game shape. I know I’ve talked about stamina issues with his extensive play through the winter leagues and beyond, but I don’t believe that will be an issue going forward. It’s not like players haven’t been playing year-round for years. As long as he’s in shape and healthy, look for a big season from the Indians’ shortstop. He really stayed down on a pitch in his first at bat and got good wood on it. He lined out to Hamilton, but he’s really seeing the ball well. He walked in the fourth to bring home the Indians’ fifth and final run. He’s really in midseason form offensively right now.
- I was watching FoxSportsWest while watching Wednesday’s game, and early on they were talking about the Indians line-up. In Cabrera, Cord Phelps and Nick Swisher, the Indians had three switch hitters in a row at the two, three and four-holes, and they loved the versatility that the Tribe offense could provide.
- Cord Phelps is playing extremely well this offseason, but I can’t imagine he makes the club. There’s a faction that are pulling for this long-term minor leaguer to make the club. There was a time when Phelps was on near-equal footing with one Jason Kipnis. Perhaps his glove ultimately did him in, as he’s just not versatile enough defensively to be a true utility player. Of course, his bat can cure a lot of that. He singled in the first inning on a 3-0 pitch to ignite a two-run Indians’ rally. He then followed that by slicing a two-out double in the third inning. So should the Indians keep Phelps over Giambi? A case is really being made on the field. If Francona were living by his mantra that Giambi has to be special in the mentoring capacity, as well as solid as a hitter, than Giambi should be out.
- Swisher is just shredding spring training pitching right now. He came into the game hitting .457, and continued the first-inning rally with a two-out walk. He’d ultimately strike out in his next two at bats, but it’s clear that the guy’s value in the middle of the line-up is going to be huge. I can’t wait for Carlos Santana to return, to amp up this line-up.
- Michael Brantley just looks different. In his first at-bat on Wednesday night, he launched a pitch low in the zone to dead straight-away center, bouncing off the bottom of the wall, driving in the first two runs of the ballgame. In the fourth inning, Brantley led the inning off with a bloop single on a nice, compact, quick swing after lefty Sean Burnett came into the game.
- Several Indians were clearly keeping their bats on their shoulders to watch the first pitch from Angels pitching early in the game. I’m not sure if it’s something that the Indians are talking about doing this season, but it was working in the first, and piled on early pitches for struggling Angels starter, Tommy Hanson.
- Trevor Bauer was making his first official start for the Indians during the spring training after coming in as a “relief pitcher” during his first four appearances. He really is a quick worker, which can hurt and help him. The ball really does appear to jump out of his hand. He rolled through the first inning fairly quickly.
- In the second inning, the Angels entire roster was on the dugout steps watching Bauer pitch. It was a strange scene in spring training. They were either curious about watching him, or trying to intimidate him. He allowed the first two hitters to get on base in Josh Hamilton (walk) and Mark Trumbo (single), but Hamilton got caught off of second base on an attempted bunt, and got thrown out. Bauer drew two double plays in the first two innings to get him through after facing the minimum. In the third inning, the Angels had clearly figured Bauer out to a point. They were making him work hard, and he was struggling with control. He wouldn’t return in the fourth inning.
- Chisenhall was patient against lefty Sean Burnett, and worked the count to 3-1, with one on in the fourth inning. He crushed an inside fastball deep over the right field wall. That was a promising at-bat for Chis, who has historically struggled against lefties.
- David Huff certainly didn’t help himself today in his quest to make the team on Wednesday. He gave up a run in each the fourth and the fifth inning, giving the Angels the win. In fairness to Huff, Nick Hagadone gave up a middling single in relief of Huff, scoring the tie-breaking run, but Huff just wasn’t very good. I’m not saying that’s it for the lefty…well…maybe I am.
- It was nice seeing Francisco Lindor wearing a Cleveland Indians jersey in a game. He’s years out, but it’s a scene that will hopefully become commonplace sooner rather than later. He should have had a single in the sixth inning when he drilled a shot toward the gap between third and short. The ball was deflected by the third baseman to the shortstop, who then threw out Lindor at first. He went 0-for-2 on the day.
- It was fun watching Nick Hagadone today. I wouldn’t say that he was dominant, but I will say he had command of his stuff. He was throwing three pitches, a nice fastball that he was moving all over the plate. The irony is that it was his breaking ball and changeup that were really frustrating Angels’ hitters. If he gets everything working, and keep his head in the game, the sky is the limit for the power-lefty.
- Tyler Naquin made a really nice play on a ball hit to the alley in right-center. There are a lot of fans still scratching their heads on the Naquin draft pick. I suspect he’ll be quieting that crowd this year. He’s going to be a really good baseball player.
- Chris McGuiness really does have a beautiful swing, and he drilled a pitch off the wall in left in the seventh. The irony is that he hit it so hard that Josh Hamilton was able to hold him to a single.
- Vinnie Pestano gave up a one-out double to Howie Kendrick in the seventh, and allowed the runner to get to third on a wild pitch. He then Pestano’d the heart of the Angels order to get out of the jam. He completely baffled Albert Pujols and struck him out looking, then got out of the inning by getting Hamilton to ground out back to the pitcher. It was a nice, solid outing for the Tribe’s set-up man.
- The Indians pen was solid again, going 3 2/3 post-Huff.
Tune in tomorrow:
Cleveland remains on the road tomorrow, as the club will travel to Salt River Fields in Scottsdale to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks at 4:05pm ET. Right-handers CARLOS CARRASCO and IAN KENNEDY are the scheduled probables and the contest will be broadcast live on SportsTime Ohio.
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gomes is a little banged up, a hamstring if I recall though expected back in there sometime this weekend. Rondon is likely to make the Cubs roster. He is having a good spring, not great and exciting but looks like he could be a solid 6th or 7th inning guy if he stays healthy.
Francona likes versatile players, and with Phelps, Aviles and Raburn...they have guys that can play anywhere...
We just need to get Kipnis going and this is going to be a very good offense. But we have Aviles to step in if Kipnis is struggling.
The starting pitching is a huge question mark. I don't have a good feeling about it. We might see the bullpen getting involved in the 5th or 6th inning in a lot of games. Fortunately our bench players can play a lot of positions so we can afford to carry extra relievers.